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Reading Is Good For You

Reading is good for your brain.

Michael is a self-confessed book worm, Victor Sperandeo is known for a voracious reading habit and I try to imitate these two in the reading stakes.

I love reading.  I immerse myself in words for both career advancement and also pure unadulterated pleasure.

So it’s no real surprise that science has discovered that reading is good for you.

A bit of a no-brainer really.  I hear you saying: “Duh, I knew that”.

What I hope may interest you a little more is what exactly a recent study revealed. The study conducted with supervision by cognition and neurobiology experts at Stanford, is the brainchild of a literary English scholar Natalie Phillips.  Natalie was interested in figuring out exactly what the value of studying literature was.

In short, they got people inside an fMRI machine and had them read Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park.  Significantly they got the subjects to read it in two different styles.  One was to read as if they were reading for pure relaxation or pleasure and the other for critical analysis as if studying to pass an exam.

The researchers found from the fMRI scans that when we read blood flows to regions beyond those used simply for executive functions.  It flows to areas associated with close concentration.  It should be noted this was in both relaxed reading and critical reading.  Although they found that critical reading employs a specific type of complex cognitive function that we don’t usually employ.

“Both styles of reading, the researchers say, initiate kinds of cognitive function that go beyond simple “work” and “play”   “.

As we discover more and more about how little we really know about the fascinating brain, I find it rather enticing to read that simply by asking the subjects to change the way they read elicited drastically different neural activity and blood flow in the brain.

So now when you are reading your favourite author you can be sure that you’re genuinely giving your brain a work out.  Keep reading.

Literature is good for your brain

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